Sunday Scripture readings for April 23, 2023, Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14, 22-33 Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 1 Pt 1:17-21 Lk 24:13-35
The Emmaus journey brings us awakening to the knowledge of the Risen Christ
Think of a memorable meal you had recently or in the past. Perhaps it was a casual family gathering or a formal occasion. It may have been in a secluded place or against a noisy backdrop. We might recall the setting of the meal, the conversation that animated the group and the food and drink that provided bodily nourishment. But it’s the experience of the company of others, in whose presence we enjoyed the meal, that lifted our spirits and left lasting memories. We savor such meals long after the taste of food and drink, however enjoyable, fades from our recollection.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that after their experience of Jesus’ passion and death, the disciples tasted fear, disappointment and hopelessness. They’d lived through the unique experience of being in the physical company of Jesus as he walked and talked with them, healed the sick and restored outcasts to their communities. The disciples shared many meals with Jesus as he multiplied loaves and fishes, turned water into wine and enjoyed the hospitality of his friends, Mary and Martha. No wonder then, that the two disciples described as heading away from Jerusalem — the spiritual center of worship of God — are downcast. Jesus, their beloved master and lord, is no longer present to them.
Jesus meets these two disciples on the road to Emmaus and enters into their deep disappointment and sense of abandonment. He does not issue a proclamation from heaven or send a thunderbolt of energy to revive them. Instead, Jesus draws near and accompanies them, talking with them even though their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
As this Easter story unfolds the disciples enter into the great mystery of the Eucharist, when Jesus continued his presence with his disciples — then and even now, to the present day. For Jesus begins by explaining the meaning of Scripture as it refers to his passion, death and resurrection. In a kind of original bible study with Jesus as teacher, the disciples experience the Liturgy of the Word — just as the church hears the voice of Jesus proclaimed in the assembly.
When the disciples urge Jesus to stay with them as evening draws near, they approach the second part of every liturgical celebration. When Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to the disciples, Luke tells us only that, “with that their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”
In this moment of eucharistic amazement the disciples hear the Word of God preached, and receive the presence of Jesus in the bread blessed and broken for the salvation of the world. Jesus’ real presence is the power that transforms their Easter faith.
Have you made your Emmaus journey with Jesus this Easter? This is the challenge and invitation of God’s word. In the radiant light of the resurrection we can be confident to journey on the path the disciples walked with Jesus to deeper faith. For the Emmaus journey captures the journey of every disciple of Jesus.
Today we are invited into awareness of Jesus, who desires to draw close to us, speak his comforting word, and then nourish us with the spiritual food (and healing presence) in the supreme gift of his body and blood in the Eucharist. As our eyes are opened around the sacred meal of the Eucharist, we join the church in praying with Easter faith, “speak to me, Lord.”
Question: How are you called to give witness to the transforming presence of the risen Jesus in your life?
Jem Sullivan holds a doctorate in religious education and is an associate professor of Catechetics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.